ePub 版

reflected glory; it would “ denote nate with nature, and comes into no foregone conclusion,” would touch the first class of poetry, but no one no chord of imagination or the heart; ever dreamt of the contrary. The it would have nothing romantic features of nature are great leading about it. --A man can make any thing, land-marks, not near and little, or but he cannot make a sentiment! confined to a spot, or an individual It is a thing of inveterate prejudice, claimant; they are spread out everyof old association, of common feel- where the same, and are of univering, and so is poetry, as far as it is sal interest. The true poet has serious. A “ pack of cards,” a silver therefore been described as bodkin, a paste buckle, “ may be imbued" with as much mock poetry

Creation's tenant, he is nature's heir. as you please, by lending false asso- What has been thus said of the man ciations to it; but real poetry, or of genius might be said of the man poetry of the highest order, can only of no genius. The spirit of poetry, be produced by unravelling the real and the spirit of humanity are the web of associations, which have been

same. The productions of nature wound round any subject by nature, are not locked up in the cabinets of and the unavoidable conditions of the curious, but spread out on the humanity. Not to admit this dis- green lap of earth. The flowers retinction at the threshold, is to con- turn with the cuckoo in the spring: found the style of Tom Thumb with the daisy for ever looks bright in the that of the Moor of Venice, or Hur- sun; the rainbow still lifts its head lothrumbo with the Doge of Venice. above the storm to the eye of infancy It is to mistake jest for earnest, and

or ageone thing for another.

So was it when my life began ; How far that little candle throws its beams! So is it now I am a man, So shines a good deed in a naughty world. So shall it be till I grow old and die;

The image here is one of artificial but Lord Byron does not understand life; but it is connected with natural this, for he does not understand Mr. circumstances and romantic interests, Wordsworth's poetry, and we canwith darkness, with silence, with not make him. His Lordship’s nadistance, with privation, and uncer- ture, as well as his poetry, is sometain danger: it is common, obvious, thing arabesque and outlandish.without pretension or boast, and Again, once more, what, we would therefore the poetry founded upon it ask, makes the difference between is natural, because the feelings are an opera of Mozart's, and the singso, It is not the splendour of the ing of a thrush confined in a wooden candle itself, but the contrast to the cage at the corner of the street in gloom without the comfort, the re- which we live? The one is nature, lief it holds out from afar to the be- and the other is art: the one is paid nighted traveller, — the conflict be- for, and the other is not. Madame tween nature and the first and cheapest Fodor sings the air of Vedrai Carino resources of art, that constitutes the in Don Giovanni so divinely, because romantic and imaginary, that is, the she is hired to sing it; she sings it to poetical interest, in that familiar but please the audience, not herself, and striking image. There is more art does not always like to be encored in the lamp or chandelier ; but for in it; but the thrush that awakes us that very reason, there is less poetry. at day-break with its song, does A light in a watch-tower, a beacon not sing because it is paid to sing, at sea, is sublime for the same cause; or to please others, or to be admired because the natural circumstances or criticised. It sings because it is and associations set it off; it warns happy : it pours the thrilling sounds us against danger, it reminds us of from its throat, to relieve the overcommon calamity, it promises safety flowings of its own breast, the liquid and hope: it has to do with the notes come from, and go to, the heart, broad feelings and circumstances of dropping balm into it, as the gushing human life, and its interest does not spring revives the traveller's parched assuredly turn upon the vanity or and fainting lips. That stream of pretensions of the maker or proprie- joy comes pure and fresh to the tor of it. This sort of art is co-ordi- longing sense, free from art and als

fectation; the same that rises over tensions; but it is the fall from these, vernal groves, mingled with the the decline into the vale of low and breath of morning, and the perfumes obscure poverty,--the having but one of the wild hyacinth; that waits for last loop left to hang life on, and the no audience, that wants no rehears- sacrifice of that to a feeling still ing, that exhausts its raptures, and more precious, and which could only is still

give way with life itself,--that eleHymns its good God, and carols sweet of find its way into all hearts. Had

vates the sentiment, and has made it love.

Frederigo Alberigi had an aviary of There is this great difference be- Hawks, and preserves of pheasants tween nature and art, that the one is without end, he and his poor bird what the other seems, and gives all would never have been heard of. It the pleasure it expresses, because it is not the expence and ostentation feels it itself. Madame Fodor sings, of the entertainment he set before as a musical instrument may be his mistress, but the prodigality of made to play a tune, and perhaps affection, squandering away the last with no more real delight: but it is remains of his once proud fortunes, not so with the linnet or the thrush, that stamps this beautiful incident on that sings because God pleases, and the remembrance of all who have ever pours out its little soul in pleasure. read it. We wish Lord Byron would This is the reason why its singing is look it over again, and see whether (so far) so much better than melody it does not most touch the chords or harmony, than base or treble, of pathos and sentiment in those than the Italian or the German places where we feel the absence of school, than quavers or crotchets, or all the pomp and vanities of art. half-notes, or canzonets, or quartetts, Mr. Campbell talks of a ship as a or any thing in the world but truth sublime and beautiful object in art. and nature !

We will confess we always stop to To give one more instance or two look at the mail-coaches with no of what we understand by a natural slight emotion, and, perhaps, extend interest ingrafted on artificial objects, our hands after some of them, in and of the principle that still keeps sign of gratulation. They carry them distinct. Amelia's “ hashed the letters of friends, of relations ; mutton” in Fielding, is one that I they keep up the communication bemight mention. Hashed mutton is tween the heart of a country. We an article in cookery, homely enough do not admire them for their work. in the scale of art, though far re- manship, for their speed, for their moved from the simple products of livery--there is something more nature; yet we should say that in it than this. Perhaps we can exthis common delicacy which Amelia plain it by saying, that we once provided for her husband's supper, heard a person observe—“I always and then waited so long in vain for look at the Shrewsbury mail, and his return, is the foundation of one sometimes with tears in my eyes : of the most natural and affecting that is the coach that will bring me incidents in one of the most natural the news of the death of my father and affecting books in the world. and mother." His Lordship will No description of the most splendid say, the mail-coach is an artificial and luxurious banquet could come object. Yet we think the interest up to it. It will be remembered, here was not founded upon that cire when the Almanach des Gourmands, cumstance. There was a finer and and even the article on it in the last deeper link of affection that did not Edinburgh Review, are forgotten. depend on the red painted pannels, Did Lord Byron never read Boc- or the dyed garments of the coachcacio ? We wish he would learn man and guard. At least it stikes us refinement from him, and get rid of 90. his hard bravuru taste, and swash- This is not an easy subject to ilbuckler conclusions. What makes lustrate, and it is still more difficult the charm of the story of the Falcon? to define. Yet we shall attempt Is it properly art or nature? The something of the sort. 1. Natural tale is one of artificial life, and ele- objects are common and obvious, and gant manners, and chivalrous pre- are imbued with an habitual and

[ocr errors]

universal interest, . without being other; and so does the artificial ani. vulgar. Familiarity in them does mal, man: but the poetry of Rumford not breed contempt, as it does in the grates or Dutch ovens, it would puzworks of man. They form an ideal zle even Lord Byron to explain. class; their repeated impression on Cowper has made something of the the mind, in so many different cir- “ loud-hissing urn," though Mr. cumstances, grows up into a senti- Southey, as being one of the more ment. The reason is, that we refer refined “ naturals,” still prefers them generally and collectively to “ the song of the kettle.” The more ourselves, as links and mementos of our senses, our self-love, our eyes our various being; whereas, we refer and ears, are surrounded, and, as it the works of art respectively to those were, saturated with artificial enjoyby whom they are made or to whom ments and costly decorations, the they belong. This distracts the mind more the avenues to the imagination in looking at them, and gives a petty and the heart are unavoidably blockand unpoetical character to what we ed up. We do not say, that this feel relating to them. When the may not be an advantage to the indiworks of art become poetical, it vidual ; we say it is a disadvantage is when they are emancipated from to the poet. Even “ Mine Host of this state of “

circumscription and Human Life," has felt its palsying, confine," by some circumstance that enervating influence. Let anyone sets aside the idea of property and (after ten years old) take shelter from individual distinction. The sound of a shower of rain in Exeter Change, village bells,

and see how he will amuse the time The poor man's only music, * with looking over the trinkets, the

chains, the seals, the curious works excites as lively an interest in the of art. Compare this with the demind, as the warbling of a thrush: scription of Una and the Red Cross the sight of a village spire presents Knight in Spenser : nothing discordant with the surrounding scenery:

Enforc'd to seek some covert nigh at hand, 2. Natural objects are more akin A shady grove not far away they spied, to poetry and the imagination, partly, That promis'd aid the tempest to withbecause they are not our own handy- Whose lofty trees, yclad with summer's

stand: work, but start up spontaneously, like a visionary creation, of their own Did spread so broad, that heaven's light

pride, accord, without our knowledge or did hide, connivance.

Not pierceable with power of any star; The earth hath bubbles, as the water hath, And all within were paths and alleys wide, And these are of them ;

With footing worn, and leading inward and farther, they have this advan- Par harbour that them seems ; so in they tage over the works of art, that the enter'd are. latter either fall short of their preconceived intention, and excite our Ànd forth they pass, with pleasure forward disgust and disappointment by their led, defects; or, if they completely answer Joying to hear the birds' sweet harmony, their end, they then leave nothing to

Which therein shrowded from the tem. the imagination, and so excite little pest's dread, or no romantic interest that way. A Seem'd in their song to scorn the cruel sky. Count Rumford stove, or a Dutch Much can they praise the trees so straight

and high, oven, are useful for the pụrposes of The sailing pine, the cedar proud and tall, warmth or culinary dispatch. Gray's The vine-prop elm, the poplar never dry, purring favourite would find great The builder oak, sole king of forests all, comfort in warming its nose before The aspen good for staves, the cypress fue the one, or dipping its whiskers in the

neral. t Coleridge. + Most people have felt the ennui of being detained under a gateway in a shower of rain. Happy is he who has an umbrella, and can escape when the first fury of the storm has abated. Turn this gateway into a broker's shop, full of second-hand furni. ture-tables, chairs, bedsteads, bolsters, and all the accommodations of man's life, the case will not be mended. On the other hand, convert it into a wild natural

far ;

[ocr errors]

Artificial flowers look pretty in a This is the true false gallop of the lady's head-dress; but they will not sublime. Yet steel is a very useful do to stick into lofty verse. On the metal, and doubtless performs all contrary, a crocus bursting out of the these wonders, But it has not, aground seems to blush with its own mong so many others, the virtue of golden light—" a thing of life.” So amalgamating with the imagination. a greater authority than Lord Byron We might quote also his description has given his testimony on this sub- of the spinning-jenny, which is project : “ Behold the lilies of the field, nounced by Dr. Aikin to be as inthey toil not, neither do they spin; genious a piece of mechanism as the yet I say unto you, that even Solo- object it describes; and, according mon in all his glory was not arrayed to Lord Byron, this last is as well like one of these.” Shakspeare speaks suited to the manufacture of verses of

as of cotton-twist without end. Daffodils,

3. Natural interests are those which That come before the swallow dares and are real and inevitable, and are so take

far contradistinguished from the arThe winds of March with beauty.

tificial, which are factitious and af

fected. If Lord Byron cannot unAll this play of fancy and dramatic

derstand the difference, he may find interest could not be transferred to a description of hot-house plants, regu- Chaucer's characters and incidents

it explained by contrasting some of lated by a thermometer. Lord Byron unfairly enlists into the service of his with those in the Rape of the Lock,

for instance. argument those 'artificial objects, her boat on the wide sea, is different

Custance floating in which are direct imitations of nature, from Pope's heroine, such as statuary, &c. This is an oversight. At this rate, all poetry Launched on the bosom of the silver would be artificial poetry.

Dr. Dar

Thames. win is among those, who have en

Griselda's loss of her children, one deavoured to confound the distinct by one, of her all, does not belong tions of natural and artificial poetry, to the same class of incidents, por of and indeed, he is, perhaps, the only subjects for poetry, as Belinda's loss one, who has gone the whole length of her favourite curl. A sentiment of Lord Byron's hypercritical and that has rooted itself in the heart, super-artificial theory.

Here are some of his lines, which have been is not like the caprice of the moment

and can only be torn from it with life, greatly admired.

-the putting on of paint and patches, Apostrophe to Steel.

or the pulling off a glove. The inbred character

is not like a masqueHail, adamantine steel ! magnetic lord, rade dress. There is a difference King of the prow, the ploughshare, and between the theatrical, and natu

the sword! True to the pole, thee the pilot guides termination of the present question,

ral, which is important to the deHis steady course amid the struggling and which has been overlooked by

tides, Braves with broad sail the immeasurable his Lordship. Mr. Bowles, however, sea,

formally insists (and with the best Cleaves the dark air, and asks no star but right in the world) on the distinction thee !

between passion and manners. But

cave, and we may idle away whole hours in it, marking a streak in the rock, or a flower that grows on the sides, without feeling time hang heavy on us. The reason is, that where we are surrounded with the works of man--the sympathy with the art and pur. poses of man, as it were, irritates our own will, and makes us impatient of whatever interferes with it: while, on the contrary, the presence of nature, of objects existing without our intervention and controul, disarms the will of its restless activity, and disposes us to submit to accidents that we cannot help, and the course of outward events, without repining. We are thrown into the hands of nature, and become converts to her power. Thus the idea of the artificial, the conventional, the voluntary, is fatal to the romantic and imaginary. To us it seems, that the free spirit of nature rushes through the soul, like a stream with a murmuring sound, the echo of which is poetry.

he agrees with Lord Byron, that the Byron's phrase, super-artificial, as Epistle to Abelard is the height of well as super-human poetry. But the pathetic.

it is serious business. Fate, if not

Nature, is its ruling genius. The Strange that such difference should be

Pandemonium is not a baby-house "Twixt tweedledum and tweedledee.

of the fancy, and it is ranked (ordiThat it is in a great degree pa- highest and most important order of

narily), with natural, i. e. with the thetic, we should be amongst the

last poetry, and above the Rape of the to dispute; but its character is more

Lock. We intended a definition, properly rhetorical and voluptuous. and have run again into examples. That its interest is of the highest or

Lord Byron's concretions have spoildeepest order, is what we should ed us for philosophy. We will therewonder to hear any one affirm, who fore leave off here, and conclude is intimate with Shakspeare, Chau- with a character of Pope, which cer, Boccacio, our own early dra

seems to have been written with an matists, or the Greek tragedians. eye to this question, and which (for There is more true, unfeigned, un

what we know) is as near a solution speakable, heartfelt distress in one

of it as the Noble Letter-writer's emline of Chaucer's tale just mentioned, phatical division of Pope's writings Let me not like a worm go by the way,

into ethical, mock-heroic, and fanci

ful poetry. than in all Pope's writings put to- « Pope was not assuredly a poet gether; and we say it without any of this class, or in the first rank of disrespect to him too. Didactic it. He saw nature only dressed by poetry has to do with manners, as art'; he judged of beauty by fashion ; they are regulated, not by fashion or he sought for truth in the opinions of caprice, but by abstract reason and the world; he judged of the feelings grave opinion, and is equally remote of others by his own. The capafrom the dramatic, which deseribes cious soul of Shakspeare had an inthe involuntary and unpremeditated tuitive and mighty sympathy with impulses of nature. Lord Byron whatever could enter into the heart refers to the Bible, we would just of man in all possible circumstances: ask him here, which he thinks the Pope had an exact knowledge of all most poetical parts of it, the Law of that he himself loved or hated, wishthe Twelve Tables, the Book of Le- ed or wanted. Milton has winged viticus, &c.; or the Book of Job, his daring flight from heaven to Jacob's dream, the story of Ruth, earth, through Chaos and old Night. &c.?

Pope's Muse never wandered with 4. Supernatural poetry is, in the safety, but from his library to his sense here insisted on, allied to grotto, or from his grotto into his linature, not to art, because it re- brary back again. His mind dwelt lates to the impressions made upon with greater pleasure on his own the mind by unknown objects and garden, than on the garden of Eden; powers, out of the reach both of the he could describe the faultless wholecognizance and will of man, and still length mirror that reflected his own more able to startle and confound his person, better than the smooth surimagination, while he supposes them face of the lake that reflects the face to exist, than either those of nature of heaven-a piece of cut glass or a or art. The Witches in Macbeth, pair of paste buckles with more brilthe Furies in Æschylus, are so far liance and effect, than a thousand artificial objects, that they are crea- dew-drops glittering in the sun. He tures of the poet's brain; but their would be more delighted with a paimpression on the mind depends on tent lamp, than with “ the pale retheir possessing attributes, which flex of Cynthia's brow," that fills baffle and set at nought all human the skies with its soft silent lustre, pretence, and laugh at all human that trembles through the cottage efforts to tamper with them. Satan in window, and cheers the watchful Milton is an artificial or ideal charac- mariner on the lonely wave. In ter : but would any one call this short, he was the poet of personality artificial poetry? It is, in Lord and of polished life. That which was


« 上一頁繼續 »